MisunderSTANding. A full strength STAN bandies witty misunderstandings.

The two-part production of/niet reunites STAN’s four men and women for the first time for several years.

The production opens with Harold Pinter’s Party Time , a commentary on the social clubs frequented by well-heeled Brits who chatter away their lives in carefree manner at cocktail parties. Outside a (Gulf) war wages but that doesn’t seem to bother the guests one iota, as they waffle on interminably about the advantages of their private club and try to keep up the appearance of a happy marriage whilst living in a state of almost constant irritation with their partner. As suddenly as the action began in Party Time , the play switches to a very light-hearted Relatively Speaking by Alan Ayckbourn. This comedy of misunderstandings could also be interpreted as a social commentary on the hypocrisy of 'decent citizens', hence too the link with Pinter, but for the men and women of STAN the play seems above all to be an excuse to capitalize on their comic potential. Which they do!

Frank Vercruyssen is marvellous as the honest, rather naive Greg, an insurance agent who proposes to his sweetheart Ginny (Sara De Roo). As befits a decent young man, he visits her parents to ask their consent. The only problem is that the ‘parents’ (Jolente De Keersmaecker as the anxious, rather subservient mother and Damiaan De Schrijver, who elicits deserved peals of laughter) have no daughter. Ayckbourn, the king of misunderstandings, wrote an ingenious composition in which one lie inevitably leads to another. The moral comedy rebounds on all sides at once and the spectator sits waiting for the bomb to go off.

The energy and gusto STAN displays here, together with the obvious enjoyment they derive from acting, are amazing. Of/niet shows that for the time being at least a well placed misunderstanding is still the number-one of comedy. So a mountain of misunderstandings, cross-fertilized with a dash of Pinter, equals pure STAN: flawlessly executed, extremely witty and totally compelling.

Knack, Wim Smets, May 3rd 2006

English